About an hour after this photo was taken, I found myself lying in the middle of an alley, curled up in pain, hyperventilating, my elbow screaming, Evan standing over me, telling me to get out of the street. It had been a simple curb ride—nothing out of the ordinary or spectacular that had caused some of the worst pain I’ve ever been in.
I rode the 10 or so blocks back to the shop one-armed, feeling as if I would suddenly vomit or pass out or both, immediately falling onto the improvised couch made out of a van seat that sits in a corner amongst fat bikes and cycling apparel.
I didn’t want to go to the hospital yet. My gut told me I’d have to, but I was in denial. It couldn’t be broken. It would feel better in the morning. Rest, ice, elevate…it would be fine.
I drank a couple beers. Took an Ibuprofen. Went to bed.
Morning came, and my arm felt the same. It hurt. A lot. There was no way I could go to work as a waitress, so I made the call to my boss and sheepishly made my way to the ER.
My fear was confirmed—it was indeed broken. A radial head fracture of the elbow, to be exact. They splinted my whole arm, from my tricep to my hand, and made me an appointment with an orthopedist for the next day.
Saying that I was bummed was an understatement. It’s summer, the busiest time of year for me, the time of year that I not only want to be active but need to be active—not only for my mental state but for my bank account as well.
I know injury is a risk that I take every time I get on a mountain bike, but this was the first time I’ve gotten up from a crash anything other than just bloodied and bruised, and knowing the risk wasn’t doing much to feel better about it now that I had my first broken bone (fingers and toes don’t count).
What did make me feel better was my appointment with the orthopedist. After confirming the bad news that my arm was broken, the spunky P.A. gave me the good news—the break wasn’t that bad, the splint was overkill, I should be moving my arm around to begin regaining mobility, and that I should “use my own judgement” in regards to what I can and can’t do. Basically, if it hurts, don’t do it.
While this didn’t change the fact that there was still a lot I couldn’t do, freeing my arm of the hot, sweaty splint did wonders, as did the knowledge that my healing would take weeks, not months.
Though it’ll be a while before I get back on a mountain bike (my main concern now is falling and re-breaking it), I feel like I got lucky. After my trip to the ER, I thought it would be a lot worse.